Effects of Cultural Knowledge and Language Proficiency on Listening Comprehension of Iranian EFL Learners

Nasrin Pashayi, Asgar Mahmoudi


The present study tried to find solutions for some of the problems EFL listeners encounter in listening comprehension. The 37 participants of this study came from two classes in one of the language institutes in Ardabil, Iran and according to the officials of the institute were at the intermediate level. However, to divide the students in each class to two groups of high and low, the Oxford Placement Test (OPT) was given to them. After that, they were exposed to two audio files one about mosques and the other about cathedrals. The presentation orders of the audio files in the classes were not the same, that is, in one class the audio about mosques was played first, while in the other it was played last. After listening to each audio, the participants answered the listening comprehension questions that followed. The collected data were finally fed into the SPSS program and the two hypotheses of the study were examined. The first hypothesis was accepted. It meant that topic familiarity does not have any significant effect on the listening comprehension of the low-level learners. The second hypothesis was rejected. This meant that language proficiency can override topic unfamiliarity in listening comprehension of the high-level students.


topic familiarity, language proficiency, listening comprehension

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